Bodegas Roda, Rioja, Spain

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I continue my series on travel to Rioja with another modern powerhouse of Rioja: Bodegas Roda.  We visited the Roda Wine Bar in the station district of Haro, a short stumble along the road from R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, La Rioja Alta and Gomez Cruzado.

The station district in Haro boasts a ridiculous density of top flight wineries – if you only have time to make one stop in Rioja this should be it.

Bodega Roda is really the new boy on the block in Haro’s station district – founded in 1987. Roda keeps things simple making only red wines. The entry level red Roda Sela is already of a phenomenal standard and this is followed up with a pair of fascinating reservas: Roda and Roda I.  The reservas are blended on the basis of the fruit characteristics of each barrel, creating the red fruit dominant Roda Reserva and the black fruit dominant Roda I Reserva.  Forming the vanguard is the flagship Cirsion which unfortunately was not available for tasting.

The tasting room at Roda is a modern affair, serving the wines by the glass and very reasonably priced plates of local cheese and charcuterie. Rounding this off with some bread and their superb olive oil makes a delicious snack or even lunch depending on your appetite. Under the tasting room lies a 19th century cellar and this environment is the perfect place to finish off any remaining wine sheltered from the midday sun.

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The wines of Roda and a light lunch of Charcuterie, Bread, Oil and Cheese

Wines Tasted: Roda Sela 2012, Roda Reserva 2010, Roda I Reserva 2007, 2008

Tasting Notes:

There was a clear house style across the 3 wines – all show textbook quality, high extract modern winemaking at its finest.  There is an increase in intensity, body, and balance moving through the range, although with it there is a decrease in accessibility due to increasing tannin and a need for more age – a long decant may help this considerably. These are fruit driven muscular wines that make your mouth water.

Roda Sela 2012 is a great introduction to the house style and is most ready for drinking on opening. The Roda Reserva 2010 and Roda I Reserva 2007 both seemed to be predominantly black fruit – although my understanding is that the parcels for Roda Reserva are selected for a red fruit character.  It would probably be fairer to assess this in a single vintage for both wines, and certainly the Roda I Reserva showed more intensity of character.  Across the range oak was well integrated and there was good balance.

Roda Sela 2012: Score: 90/100
Roda Reserva 2010: Score: 90-91/100
Roda I Reserva 2007: Score: 90-91/100

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The 19th Century cellar under the tasting room

We were lucky enough to taste two vintages of Roda I Reserva.  On returning the day after the initial tasting the 2007 vintage had just run out meaning the 2008 was available to taste.  In comparison the Roda I Reserva 2008 was much more open than the 2007.  There was clear black fruit and the more accessible style meant the more complex tertiary aromas were revealed.  The wine remains full bodied with a rich mouth feel and great depth of intensity.

I purchased a bottle of Roda I Reserva 2008 as a gift but didn’t have the heart to give it away.  I sat down with the bottle over Christmas and the wine was extremely well received by all.  This second tasting confirmed the wine benefits from time in the decanter.  I note the Roda tasting notes suggest 2008 was a cooler vintage  than 2007 which may well be responsible for this being a little bit more accessible at this point in time.

Roda I Reserva 2008: Score: 91-92/100

What to buy: When it comes to selecting between these wines really it comes down to the occasion and your budget.  Roda Reserva 2010 was really not far behind the more expensive Roda I Reserva, perhaps helped by 2010 being a stunning vintage across the region.  The Roda I Reserva 2007 would probably have benefited from a little more time to open up so if you want to drink this now I would consider looking for a the 2008 or a slightly older vintage.

The wines of Roda are relatively easy to get hold of in the UK and I have seen both Roda Sela and Roda Reserva in Tesco and Sainsbury’s respectively – these wines will knock the socks off most supermarket fare.

Conclusions: Try Roda Sela to get a taste for the house style – if you enjoy it the other wines are well worth seeking out.  I will be keeping some cellar space for these wines in the future.

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